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It's not just young scientists who have become failure-averse. As you move on in your career and have to obtain grant support, you naturally highlight the successes and propose experiments that will continue to produce results. The lab becomes a kind of money machine.
Although these things will get you along day to day, they are an impediment to science as it is wasteful to have everyone hunting in the same ever-shrinking territory. Now and again, we have to venture out into the darkness where the likelihood of failure is high in order to expand.
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The quote, “Ever tried. Ever failed. No matter. Try again. Fail again. Fail better.” has become a staple of self-help and business books.
This will require the kind of revolutionary change in our perspective, comparable to a paradigm shift.
The alternative to running out of steam is to fail better. Skeptics may wonder how to write a grant proposal where you promise to "fail better," or getting a job with a research strategy that lays out your program for failing better.
Many scientists say that science is about a pragmatic approach to putting pieces into a puzzle, and the more pieces you add, the more successful you are.
Scientists should embrace failing better. Failing better means looking beyond the obvious, further than what you know and what you know how to do. Failing better happens when we allow ourselves to ask questions, doubt results, and allow uncertainty.
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The more we fight, the more we make it easy to overcome hurdles.
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